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Monty Python and the Holy Grail "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" on DVD

Wholly Cows, Rabbits and Knights Who Say "Ni"

The original DVD release of this Python classic did a good job of bringing that film to the new digital medium, but this new Special Edition ups the ante considerably.

Not only has Columbia Tristar Home Video chosen to give the film a new high definition anamorphic widescreen transfer (and it shows) with a newly-remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 audio soundtrack that improves greatly upon the original release (the old mono soundtrack is also included), but they've thrown in a cornucopia of silly extras that stretch over two discs.

This is great. Even if they hadn't come out with this special edition, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" would be worth seeing. Such unbridled silliness - especially of the Python ilk - is always worth watching if it's done well, and few would argue that "Grail" isn't one of the better entries in this genre of film. It isn't the satirical masterpiece that is "Monty Python's Life of Brian," but it's pretty close.

Co-directed by Pythoners Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam, the flick's loose story thread follows King Arthur (the late Graham Chapman) as he assembles his Knights of the Round Table and then is sent by God on the quest to find the Cup of the title. It's really more a series of skits than a real narrative, however, and that's fine.

And silly it is, as only Monty Python can be silly, full of wordplay and zany swordplay and horseplay in which it be-hooves them to have cocoanuts on hand.

The extras on this special edition are well worth having. First up is a pair of running commentaries, one by the co-directors and the other by Messrs Palin, Cleese and Idle, each of whom speak at you from a separate front audio channel. Unfortunately, it sounds as if the commentaries were recorded separately, so rather than having back and forth banter and reminiscences we have Pythons opining in a vacuum - not that it sucks!

Disc One continues with "subtitles for people who don't like the film" (taken from Shakespeare's Henry IV Part II), as well as an onscreen representation of the film's very silly screenplay. CTHV also brags about the new animated menus (with very loud Dolby Digital 5.1 sound), and they are indeed there. We hate these damn menus, however; not just on this DVD but on any DVD that spends so much effort on the damn menus that only slow down your access to the movie.

Oh, yes! There's also an extra 24 seconds of running time that was originally excised from the film but which has now been put back in. We're glad, too. It isn't a big deal, but it's stuff that should have been there all along (we won't spoil it by telling you what it is).

Disc Two includes "three mindless singalongs," a feature documentary "The Quest for the Holy Grail Locations," with Michael Palin and Terry Jones (though it's rather lame) as well as a new featurette on the proper use of cocoanuts (a lay Python, of course).

There's also a BBC documentary on the film's production and a rather silly version of the movie done completely in Lego, those little children's toy blocks.

You can also sit through an interactive cast directory, original sketches by Terry Gilliam, posters, behind the scenes photos and much more.

It's silly, quite a bit of it is lame, but it's definitely the definitive DVD of this, the Monty Python troupe's first real movie.

We laughed until we thought our pants would never dry.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Special Edition, from Columbia Tristar home Video
89 min. anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 TV compatible, Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin
Produced by Mark Forstater
Written by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones.


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Updated October 11, 2006